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Wing Chun expert in underground, bare-knuckle fight vs. Karate black belt

Wing Chun fighter's no-rules challenge fight with Vietnamese karate expert ends violently!
Wing Chun expert in underground, bare-knuckle fight vs. Karate black belt

Wing Chun expert in underground, bare-knuckle fight vs. Karate black belt

This story is a one small part of a big effort by to understand what works in martial arts. The process is to study what happens on the street, rather than what happens in the arena. If you enjoyed this look at real martial arts, check out the library on:
Martial Arts on The Street
Dojo Storms
Chinese Martial Arts

Canadian Wing Chun practitioner Pierre-Francois Flores created a stir in Vietnam when he arrived in the country to compete in a full-contact fight with a local martial artist. Flores had originally planned to travel to Vietnam to challenge Huynh Tan Kiet, founder and grandmaster of Nam Huynh Dao; he's a notorious fraud who claims to use an electricity-channeling technique:


Kiet turned down the fight, because he is an actual fraud, rather than simply deluded. However, a Vietnamese practitioner of traditional Karate named Doan Bao Chau, respectfully offered to fight Flores instead.

”Please don't take this as a challenge but a martial art exchange," wrote Chau. "And of course in the spirit of friendship and martial arts." 

Media interest in Vietnam led to talk about the legality of it, due to the fact it would be an unsanctioned, bare-knuckle fight, without any form of protection such as gloves or a mouthguard. In addition, Flores was also significantly younger and larger than Chau, standing stood 5' 9” tall and weighing 200lbs, while Chau was only 5' 3” tall and weighed 136lbs.

Ignoring those concerns, the two combatants secretly arranged to fight at a location in Hanoi.

What Happened

Chau began the fight with a sidekick to the body. Flores retaliated with a hard leg kick, then a flurry of open-palmed strikes to the head and another kick.

”Are you sure you want to continue?” Flores enquired, to which Chau replied, “Yes, of course!”

A few more leg and body kicks followed from Chau, but that didn’t stop Flores from moving forward and unleashing another awkward-looking series of open-handed strikes, followed by a knee to the head that staggered the smaller man and sent him falling to the floor. Chau was dazed by the strike and the action was stopped momentarily, but he agreed to continue fighting soon afterward.

The fight didn’t go any better for him after the reset, however, with Flores landing a head kick, then dropping Chau again with an open-palm strike, followed by a final kick to the face of his grounded opponent, which brought an end to the contest.


Despite the violent exchanges, there was no bad blood between the two men afterward, and they reportedly spent the rest of the day together, complimenting each other on their respective skills.

However, the deputy chairman of the Federation of Traditional Vietnamese Martial Arts, Le Kim Hoa later noted that, “from the perspective of a martial artist, I think the fight [between Flores and Chau] should not have been held since there was too big a difference in physical shape between the two masters.” 

That is a fair criticism - size matters. When a small Royce Gracie defeated far larger opponents, that proved something. A larger man defeating a smaller one proves definitively only that size matters, which everyone already knows.

That said, Flores is deserving of real respect for testing his system. Very few people in his art do. Further, he is actually criticized by other Wing Chun adepts who never step up, for supposedly not showing proper Wing Chun technique.

Flores doesn't always win, because the only way to never lose is to never play. So congratulations and respect to Pierre-Francois Flores. This video is one that didn't go his way.


The Lesson

The great Jack Dempsey told a biographer, "tell them everything I know, I learned from the losses." Mr. Flores appears to take the opposite approach.

It is baffling that Mr. Flores does not appear to learn from the losses. When he beat the karate man in the top video, at one point the black belt was in trouble and went for a double leg, which is not part of any karate system. Likewise, in the second video of Flores losing an informal fight, he, too, goes for a double leg when in trouble. But a double leg, while a necessary part of any complete fighting system, is not part of Wing Chun.

So why not study a system that includes a double leg, and does it properly, not as a last-minute straw-grasp when the core system fails? And more importantly, why not practice a system that evolves?

The central problem from a practical perspective with the practice of most traditional martial arts, is that they start with where you want to end. They assume that the techniques they are taught work for them, and rarely pressure test them to find out. And even when they do pressure test them, the parts that fail are not rejected, and the missing parts aren't added. 

So, inevitably, they end up a system that is not nearly as effective as it could have been.

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